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CMIP5 Data Access

last modified Feb 08, 2017 02:16 PM
Introductory instructions

Search: On the home page of an ESGF portal, click on "Search with options". Select Project CMIP5 and use all the search categories you need, for example:


Numerical climate experiment defined in the Experiment Design Document, e.g. historical or rcp45

Product output1 contains the results of highest priority, output2 extensions
Realm Model component, e.g. atmosphere or ocean
CMOR Table Tabulated requirements concerning variables dependent on time frequency
CF Standard Name

Variable names following the Climate and Forecast convention.  The CF convention also contains definitions of the variables.

Variable Abbreviations for variable names. for associated CF Standard Names and Variable Long Names see CMIP5 Standard Output tables
Ensemble For example, r1i1p1 and r2i1p1 are ensemble members. r is an abbreviation for realisation (starting point of the calculation), i for initialisation method and p for physics version. r0i0p0 denotes time-independent, e.g. orographical data.

The most important CMIP5 datasets have been replicated. Therefore, if you do not find all datasets you need, enable "Show All Replicas" as in the screen shot.

ESGF faceted search with "Show All Replicas" enabled

Metadata are shown without registration. Simply click on "Show Metadata" in the search result.

Registration: Before you can download data you have to register.

  • To become an ESGF user click on "Create Account". Take down the OpenID after sending the registration form. You will need it for logging in. Your account is immediately active. Don't wait for a confirmation.
  • For CMIP5 data access you will also need the membership in one of the following data access control groups: CMIP5 Research (for non-commercial research/education only) or CMIP5 Commercial. Which data are available for unrestricted use and which may only be used for non-commercial research and education is listed in the CMIP5 document Modeling Groups and their Terms of Use. For registration
    • try one of the links CMIP5 Research, CMIP5 Commerical or
    • try a download following an HTTPServer link, see section "Download" below. Then you will automatically be guided to the Group Registration Request page:

CMIP5 Group Registration Request page in ESGF

Your OpenID and group memberships should be valid on every ESGF data node.


    • Click on "Show Files" to expand a dataset in the search results.
    • Click on "HTTPServer" to the right of the file you want to download.

    Linux and Mac users may also download data via Wget script. In this way, you may download many files with one command.

    General information on CMIP5 data (structure, errata, AR5 database)